12 Most Passive Aggressive Ways to Avoid Family Arguments this Thanksgiving

12 Most Passive Aggressive Ways to Avoid Family Arguments this Thanksgiving

This is a safe place. No one is looking. It’s OK to admit that your family drives you nuts around this time of year. It’s normal. We’re all thinking it. I mean, except me of course. My family is perfect (wink, wink).

The good news is that Thanksgiving doesn’t have to stress you out or be the cause for you cleaning up garbage on the side of the road in an orange jumpsuit with chains around your ankles. There are a few things you can do leading up to Thanksgiving to ensure that you have a wonderful police-free evening.

1. Use place cards

You should have a pretty good idea who the troublemakers are in your family. If you honestly don’t, then I regret to inform you that you are one of them. To keep the troublemakers from getting too close, make some place cards and configure your ideal seating arrangement. You can kill two birds with one stone and even have the kids create the place cards if you want. They’ll be cuter, harder to argue with and it’ll keep the kids out of trouble. Don’t forget to put yourself near the closest door in case you need to make a run for it.

2. Alcohol

Logic would tell you that banning alcohol is the way to go. Alcohol is never a good solution in these types of things. UNLESS you are the only one that gets some. That’s right, keep everyone in the family dry while you sneak off to some secret location where you stash a nice box of wine. That’s right, a box. A box of wine is easier to store, it doesn’t make that clanking noise when you pour it and the cardboard gives it a nice “I feel like I just licked an envelope” flavor.

3. Separate your family

There is no hard rule that says you have to celebrate with everyone at the same time on the same day. If your family closely resembles the Hatfields and the McCoys, it might be better to separate them. Celebrate on Thursday with one side of the family and on Friday with the other side of the family. Then the following year switch it. You’ll end up with more turkey than you know what to do with, but your happiness is a sacrifice all turkeys are willing to make. I asked them. They’re cool with it.

4. Invite someone new

Chances are Aunt Betty will be on her best behavior and won’t throw another hissy fit about the time that you undercooked the turkey in 1982 if there is a stranger in the room. So why not invite a neighbor or friend of yours that does not have any plans? Better yet, invite someone less fortunate. Maybe someone that lost their job or has a family that is even crazier than yours. It’ll bring you good karma for doing something nice for another human being and it might also give your family a little peek at what Thanksgiving could be like and maybe then they will be grateful over that undercooked turkey.

5. No kids table

I know what you’re thinking — the kids table is the best part of Thanksgiving! It’s the one time each year that you get to eat in peace and quiet. The problem is that kids are the only thing that keeps adults acting like adults. Remove the kids and you have removed the only real reason we don’t act like a bunch of jackasses to each other. So bring the kids back. Make them sit with you and ensure that everyone will be on their best behavior in front of the children. I know you are concerned that your kids will resent you for it. Don’t worry. They already resent you for a dozen other things you’ve done to them over the years.

6. Have Thanksgiving at a public place

Much of the stress that comes with Thanksgiving is a result of all of the work that needs to get done. The cooking, the serving, the cleaning, etc. The majority of this gets dumped on the shoulders of one poor soul who gladly accepts early on when the location of Thanksgiving is being determined. Regret soon settles in and before long, all it takes is someone calling the turkey dry and you now have someone with fire in their eyes and an electric cutting knife in their hands. Not recommended.

7. Eat early

Weigh people down with enough tryptophan early enough in the day and one of two things is going to happen. They are either going to get drowsy and fall asleep on the couch or they are going to be looking around for a reason to leave by 4:30 PM. Either way it’s a win. So why not have everyone come over early, hang around for an hour or two and then stick a bunch of food in front of their faces. They’re not as likely to argue with their mouths full.

8. Entertainment

It’s a big day for football, so why not put on the game? It’s a win-win. Those that want to watch the game are distracted and can enjoy some healthy competition while everyone else will be in the other room joining forces against those that have chosen to watch the game instead of help set the table. Sure, chances are they will get in trouble on the way home for not helping but by that time they are already in their car on the way home and it’s no longer your problem.

9. DVR the parade

It’s hard to throw a verbal punch with a giant Underdog balloon floating by and “76 Trombones” playing in the background. DVR the parade and put it on a loop. Your guests will find themselves whistling a happy tune for a while. Just don’t rely solely on this solution though. It’ll only buy you a couple of hours before your guests begin to argue over whether or not to turn it off. The good news is that you will be halfway there by then.

10. Don’t invite Mike Tyson

We all have someone in our family looking for a fight and ready to bite someone’s ear off the very first chance they get. Don’t invite them. I know, they’ll get mad at you, right? Who cares? It doesn’t sound like they like you that much anyway. If they ask why you didn’t invite them you can either lie and say that you wanted to keep it small or be flat out honest and tell them that they suck. Maybe that’ll get them to rethink being such a jerk in the first place.

11. Give out jobs

More often than not, people argue because they are bored. They’re tired of watching the parade, they don’t like football and this lame party has no alcohol. When you catch people getting a little fidgety, start giving out jobs to everyone. Not the usual “can you bring this downstairs for me?” kind of deal. You are going to have to bring out the big guns. “Oh no!!! I forgot the turkey! Can you please run to the store and pick it up for me as soon as possible?!?!” The key is to be panicked and have a few on call. Can you go outside and watch the kids? Can you baste the turkey every 15 minutes? Can you set the table?

12. Choose to go on vacation

When all else fails, no sense in going down with the ship. Get the heck out of there. Go on vacation. Don’t worry, wherever you go there will be someplace that you can get turkey or some other form of cooked flightless bird. Go. Don’t look back and don’t feel bad. Enjoy your nice quiet Thanksgiving. I’m sure your Aunt Betty will give you an earful of all of the problems you caused by leaving for years to come!

At this point, you will have made it through Thanksgiving and chances are there was no need for any mug shots or fingerprints! Good for you! Now, go rest for a few minutes because Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are in just a few weeks!

Featured image courtesy of Polymer Princess via Creative Commons.

Marc Ensign


I should warn you. I am not a Guru, Jedi, Rock Star or a Ninja. I'm just a guy that knows an awful lot about a bunch of stuff and I like to tell stories about it on my blog. I tend to write mostly about social media, Internet Marketing, SEO, blogging, life, business and the fuzzy stuff in between your toes. I think my stuff is really good. You'll like it…trust me. You should really check it out otherwise I might be highly offended.

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Can never go wrong with football - just sayin'. I also liked the "giving out jobs". Luckily, we all get along, so no big worries on things blowing up.

Grew up with that kids' table - thought it was awesome when I moved up to the adult table until I realized it was more fun at the kids' table ;)


THAT's why we always went on vacation for Christmas when I was a kid? Shoot, I thought it was because the adults actually enjoyed finding creative ways to schlep a tree and all the presents underneath a good 1000 miles from home - and back!


Marc, I promised I'd read it and I was not disappointed. I am armed with tips that I am almost sure not to use, but which gave me a great laugh and start on the day. (Although now I'm seriously reconsidering that invite I sent to Tyson.)

Thanks and have a great Thanksgiving! :)

Take care,